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  1. Default Pittsburgh to 4 corners??

    I'm in the 'feasibility' stage of planning a 3 week trip. My friend has a new 4WD SUV, and there will be three of us total. Utah and Colorado seem to be our focus, but were looking at yellowstone and GCanyon too. I prefer a trip that doesn't force us to drive 500 miles every darn day (although I'm willing to drive straight through to get there/get back)!

    Upon leaving PA, my friend wants to see the Arch in St. Louis, other than that, we'll be motivated to put on big miles the first few days. We have diverse interests and hope to combine some outdoors activities with site seeing. We will focus on the 4-corners area, but might be interested in going further north to include the tetons/yellowstone if possible. We will live from tents, with an occasional motel stay.

    (my) Primary interests:
    Mesa Verde
    Arches/Canyonland NP
    Dinosaur NM

    My companions:
    one of them wants GCanyon as well

    I have spent time in yellowstone/tetons but am very happy to return there as I know where some fishing is. I would sacrifice the G canyon is this would make yellowstone more accessible.

    Our return to PA would be a straight shot.

    Any comments would be welcomed, as would recommendations on sites in Utah & Colorado.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default First Pass

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    It's always good to ask, as a first question in planning a RoadTrip, "What's feasible?" So I put all your stated stops into some mapping software, optimized the order in which the stops were made, and came up with an estimate on mileage. The minimum number of miles you'd have to cover to do all the things you mentioned would be on the order of 5200. That is certainly within the realm of possibility for a three week trip requiring that you cover, on average, about 250 miles a day, leaving some time for sights along the way. Unfortunately, you won't have a lot of time. As a rough rule of thumb, we recommend around 500 miles a day for people who want a moderate and sustainable daily pace. So basically, you'd have to drive 1 day for every day 'off' to see and do things. Only you and your friends can determine if such a mix is acceptable to you. You can make the circuit in either direction, of course, but described clockwise, your stops would be St. Louis, Dinosaur National Park, Arches National park, Mesa Verde, 4-Corners, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and home via Chicago. Now there are plenty of other places worth seeing along the way, but I think your trip is already jam-packed, and you'll still have to squeeze some fly fishing in there.


  3. #3

    Default Canyon country

    At the risk of being seriously flamed, I'll offer this thought:

    If the group is already set on going to Canyonlands and Arches, that might be all you want of the desert in summertime. I've been to all 3 (Canyonlands, Arches, and GCNP) and can say each is spectacular in its own way. I find Canyonlands and Arches more "tangible" in that you can do more short hikes and see much of it from the vehicle. In Canyonlands in particular, you can get very far away from the crowds. Absent some "up on top" hiking trails, it must be hard (and very difficult in terms of exertion) to get away from crowds at GCNP, at least the South Rim side.

    Yes, there's nothing exactly like the view of the Grand Canyon, but if you're trying to economize on travel time and are already good to go on the other two, you might consider eliminating GCNP.


  4. Default

    thanks for your posts,

    If I understand you (Az) correctly, then your saying our itinerary is not 'aggressive', but since we want to clown around, fish, etc, we might be pushing it a bit.

    Do you think this becomes more sustainable if we drive straight through on the way home, and drive continuously from Pit to Colorado, with a few hours stop in St. Louis? That way, we 'bang-out' a bunch of those miles on the trip to and fro? Adding a few extra days might be possible.

    of course I see Foy's point, cutting off the canyon would save a few days, and if the canyonlands are that cool - why not stick around there. I'm a real big fan of staying clear of the crazy crowds.

    Does anyone have other ideas for nice spots to hit in SW CO, 4-corners and Utah??

    Thank a million...

    Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Trimming the Fat While Leaving the Marbling

    Yeah, how you manage your time and miles is entirely up to you. I was just trying to give you a feel for how much of your trip would be in the car getting somewhere vs actually being there. Actually, the one spot on this trip that would save you the most in terms of miles if you dropped it is Yellowstone, which is pretty far removed from all your other destinations. In addition to saving on overall miles, dropping Yellowstone would make the trip more linear, meaning that you can see half your 'targets' on the drive to the Grand Canyon and half on the way home, making for a more evenly paced trip


  6. Default

    Thanks AZ,

    I do appreciate your advice. I see your point regarding yellowstone.

    I would love to know where you found the total mileage estimate, that would be useful. Also, if you could share any other destinations you love in your state - that might help me to sweeten the canyon trip!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default And there is so much to do in CO/UT

    Who needs Yellowstone? LOL Seriously, Yellowstone is very cool but I agree that you should consider saving it for a different trip where you can focus on Wyoming and, maybe, Montana, and traveling the more northern routes there and back for a whole different roadtrip with new sights to see.

    Things to see in Colorado, a very short list: Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, Pike's Peak, Durango, Million Dollar Highway, Leadville, Vail, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Great Sand Dunes National Park

    Things to see in Utah, again a very short list: Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, Staircase/Escalante, the San Rafael Swell, Salt Lake City, Great Salt Lake, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell/Page,

    ETA: Here's a link to our reviews of several online mapping programs you might want to try out. You can plug in your various destinations and get routes/mileage and travel estimates. However, the travel estimates tend to be overly optimistic. You might figure 57mph average for travel and divide the miles by 57 to get a more realistic estimate.
    Easy dip into Arizona for: North Rim and South Rim of Grand Canyon, Canyon de Chelley, Monument Valley

    If you focused on Colorado, Utah, and Northern Arizona, you sure won't get bored, that's for sure!
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 02-05-2008 at 09:49 PM. Reason: added online mapping info

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Northern Arizona

    Judy has already given you a ton of options for the Four Corners area. I have previously listed some of my favorite northern Arizona attractions. Toss in Petrified Forest National Park, and if you can't sell that trip, there's not much more that can be added. Oh, and I use MS Streets & Trips®, for my detailed mapping work, but it's not free and it has been updated many times since my version.


  9. Default

    Thanks Judy & Azbuck,

    I appreciate your comments. The experience will be very helpful as we try to plan a really cool trip. I'm sure I'll be very happy regardless of the destinations! And knowing the crew I'm with, the most likely plan will be one that includes opportunities to change the plan... but thats cool too.

    We aren't driving the most economical vehicle, so cutting out the northern bit would help our bottom line.

    thanks again,


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Default Durango

    Does anyone have other ideas for nice spots to hit in SW CO, 4-corners and Utah??
    One place Judy already mentioned, Durango, CO, would be a great place to use as a home base in SW Colorado. It’s close to Mesa Verde, and there are all kinds of places to fish nearby, including the San Juan River in New Mexico.

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